Kayaking in Yellowstone

Kayaking in Yellowstone is truly a magical experience. A few years back some friends and I made  3 annual trips to Yellowstone Park to kayak and canoe on Shoshone Lake which is the largest backcountry lake in the contiguous United States.

There is no road access and the only way to get there is paddle, no engines allowed.  We launched from the campground at Lewis Lake.  It’s a short  paddle along the shore until you reach the Lewis River Channel. This beautiful two-mile section of the Lewis River which connects Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake, has a gentle current over a gravel and sand bottom. The upper mile has just enough current to make it impossible to paddle against it, but it is only ankle to knee deep, so we paddled, hiked and waded upstream towing our boats until we reach the shore of Shoshone lake.

Shoshone Lake is full of  primitive campsite mostly on beaches. As we explored Shoshone lake,  We paddled along the rocky cliffs and gravel shores. This area is one of  Yellowstone’s most remote geyser basins.  At night we would relax while camping on one of Shoshone Lake’s many beautiful beaches, the view as sunset is wonderful. I think this trip into the Yellowstone backcountry wilderness is truly one of the finest paddling trips in the country.  It surly is a trip to be remembered.

Another great trip to do in Yellowstone Park is Yellowstone Lake.  This on my “bucket list” for sure. Seems like a great trip paddling a kayak into the coves and inlets of the pristine shoals  of Yellowstone Lake. I have heard this is one of the best inland paddling destinations in the country. Encompassing over 135 square miles, with 20-mile stretches of open water, and 110 miles of shoreline, Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the United States above 7,500 feet.

These are great kayaking trips, but the idea of planing food, transportation, permits, getting kayaks, and all the other stuff that make a fantastic trip like this keep me from getting around to it.  Here are some outfitters that will do it all for you.  Just show up and go!  Check out Geyser Kayak Tours for information their trip.  This will be fun.


Here is a little Yellowstone Geyser Kayak Tours from their own website

“Enjoy the beauty of Sea Kayaking in Yellowstone by getting off the beaten path, on a single or multi-day backcountry sea kayak tour. For over 20 years we have been showing our guests the absolute best way to experience the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park by kayaking away from the crowds on Yellowstone Lake or Lewis and Shoshone Lakes.

Established in 1872, Yellowstone National Park is America’s first national park, and one of the best inland paddling destinations in the world. The clear water and high mountain lakes of the greater Yellowstone area provide a truly unique kayaking experience. Yellowstone is home to a large variety of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk. Preserved within Yellowstone is the largest concentration of active geysers in the world – approximately half of the world’s total. Paddling away from the crowds you will see a side of Yellowstone few ever do.

Fishing cone geyser underwater

No matter if it’s your first time in a kayak or your hundred and first, our experienced guides provide expert instruction and interpretation, and we provide the best in kayaks and equipment. Kayaking is like backpacking, with one notable exception: everything is carried in the kayak, not on your back! There are no trails to follow, so you can go anywhere there’s water. We travel in to areas open only to paddle craft where we can experience the amazing scenery and solitude of the high mountains, endless lodgepole forests, geothermal features, wildflower meadows, and the abundant wildlife in their native environment.

Paddling with Elk

Absolutely no prior kayaking experience is required, an experienced guide and instructor accompanies every trip. Sea kayaks are the most versatile, sea worthy, and efficient watercraft ever designed. Created by Native Americans hundreds of years ago, these kayaks are stable, fast, and easy to paddle. With half and full day outings up to 6-day wilderness trips, we combine safety, fun, and learning experiences with an appreciation for the natural environment. Yellowstone National Park never looks better than from the seat of a kayak!”


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  1. Geyser Kayak Tours says

    Yellowstone Lake Kayak Trips are the best way to see the geysers and geothermal features in the National Park. Kayaking gets you quickly and quietly away from the crowds and in to the solitude of the Yellowstone wilderness. A day trip with Geyser Kayak Tours, from Grant Village to the West Thumb Geyser Basin can be enjoyed by people of every level of expertise, from novice to experienced.
    The absolute best way to experience Yellowstone’s amazing wilderness is on one of our 4 or 6 day trips in the southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake. The Southeast Arm, the largest of the lake’s branches, is seven miles long and one to four miles across. This secluded sound is by far the best place to view the snow-topped peaks of the Absaroka Range while kayaking into the Yellowstone River’s wide delta looking into the broad Thoroughfare Valley.

    1. getwet says

      Thanks for the comment. This is from Steve at Geyser Kayak Tours. It so happens that He is quite a sailor as well and has a 25′ MacGregor he sails around the Jackson and Yellowstone area. Hook up with him for some kayaking fun and kick around some sailing stories while your at it. Thanks Steve.

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